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Re: HP Lovecraft Vs Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 24 August, 2016 09:56PM
On the topic of characters I must disagree. He had his narrator but developed characters very sparsely. Smith, on the other hand, created a great deal of depth for even minor characters, like Zotulla's favorite courtesan, Obexa. A really good example of this is that we know that she's from Uccastrog--and if you've read the other Zothique stories, you understand what this means.

We know that when young, she had a lover whom she betrayed to his death, for amusement, apparently.

And we know that when she was escorted to Namirrah's banquet, under circumstances of extreme duress, upon first seeing Namirrah, the first thing she wondered, to paraphrase Smith was "what he was like in his congress with women...".

That's a lot to know about a minor character. I see nothing that compares to this in Lovecraft.

Similarly, the characters in The Witchcraft of Ulua are all well-formed and individual, even to the king and his queen, to a lesser degree, very minor characters, again.

Re: HP Lovecraft Vs Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 31 October, 2016 04:01PM
About the many faces of H. P. Lovecraft:

Reputation says that Clark Ashton Smith was quite a ladies man. What about Lovecraft?

What did Lovecraft and his wife Sonia do for fun in New York, during their marriage? After all, women hate dull and scrimping men. And I am sure Lovecraft tried his best to please her. Did they visit the jazz clubs, boogie-woogie, and have a few drinks?

Re: HP Lovecraft Vs Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Ancient History (IP Logged)
Date: 31 October, 2016 06:07PM
Lovecraft was a teetotal, but his letters suggest that they entertained at their apartment and went to plays.

Re: HP Lovecraft Vs Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Zabdamar (IP Logged)
Date: 27 March, 2017 09:54PM
It goes without saying that both men had the deepest admiration for one another, and would probably baulk at such a comparison; but as an avid fan of both authors I will offer my two cents.

I understand that stylistic proclivities will govern most peoples thinking, however I'm of the opinion that CAS was a superior writer to HPL in almost all areas, and furthermore, I propose that were the question put before HPL he would state the same (I base this conjecture from reading the correspondence between the two, and the fact that HPL achieved little success in his own lifetime, whilst CAS was a lauded poet who had received critical acclaim from the likes of Sterling and Bierce amongst others).

In terms of prose, descriptiveness, vocabulary, pacing, and imagination, CAS was the clear superior writer, and I doubt that few would contend that HPL could come close to him as a poet. Joshi places CAS amongst the great poets that have come out of the USA, and his contemporaries compared him to Keats and Byron...heady company indeed.

CAS' stories are ageless, someone unfamiliar with his work could read one of his shorts and believe it to be a contemporary piece, whereas HPL's work is clearly dated, and many modern readers will be put off for purely stylistic reasons.

Some will contend that HPL was superior in the arena of horror, but I dispute this claim as well, and am of the opinion that the 'Dweller in the Gulf' is a more curdling, horrific tale than anything in the Lovecraft Canon, and that creatures like the entity in 'The Weird of Avoosl Wuthoqquan' and the snouted fiend from 'The Abominations of Yondo' are more sinister and terrifying than anything conjured by Lovecraft. Smith had the remarkable ability to describe these fantastical, alien creatures in a way that made them seem utterly and completely real. It is this 'tangibility' that makes some of his work so horrifying, and being able to blend believability with such fantastique is a talent that I think Smith alone holds.

Ultimately, aside from Smith's finer writing chops, I think the defining characteristic that elevates him above Lovecraft is this: Smith was a true mystic, a true fantasist who believed in (was intimate with?) the supernatural scape, whereas Lovecraft was a stone-cold materialist, a skeptic who had a talent for writing fantasy/horror stories. There is a vast gulf between those two positions, Smith was in effect, reporting back on mystical visions and hidden things that he had glimpsed, whist Lovecraft was just 'making things up', and had no inherent belief in the veracity of his own horror or fantasy.

CAS was a genius, any who doubt that claim should read his juvenilia, which is utterly remarkable for someone so young. He was self-taught in Latin, French and Spanish to a level required not only for translatory work, but also for writing poetry...remarkable! He had an eidetic memory, and had committed the contents of an unabridged dictionary to memory. I agree with George Haas when he wrote that CAS' tremendous vocabulary is "without parallel in literature...and that I know of no other writer living or dead, who has had at his command such an incredible, comprehensive vocabulary and the ability to use it so effectively."

Comparing CAS and HPL reminds me a little of the old comparisons between Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton (bear with me here!). Both men were superlative guitarists, but I think Jack Bruce summarised it best when he said "Eric was just a guitar player, but Jimi was a force of nature" and I think the same sentiment applies to CAS and HPL. HPL was a master of his craft, and his work far excels most that have come before and after, but at the end of the day he was just a writer. CAS was a genius, a true mystic in every sense of the word. The fact that this mysticism was combined with transcendent writing ability is something that has never happened before and is unlikely to happen again.

CAS, the acme of fantasy.



Edited 7 time(s). Last edit at 27 Mar 17 | 10:09PM by Zabdamar.

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